Why do I inconvenience myself to help an animal in need? I’ve been known to be late for meetings, wading into the field alongside the road to call a skinny, scared dog to me and deliver him to the SPCA so that he can be helped, reunited with his owners or placed in a caring home. I’ve been known to humanely trap a feral cat, have her spade, release her, and provide ongoing food, water, and shelter to her. I’ve been known to adopt a rescue cat, a rescue dog. I’ve been known to telephone for help and wait by the side of an struggling, car-struck deer until animal control arrives to put it out of its misery. I’ve been known to contribute to neutering costs for people in financial hardship. Why, I’ve been asked, why?
The reason: because I feel deeply, can empathize with the feelings of others, and I care about the suffering and experience of individual animals. Of course animals can feel pain and fear. Of course they can suffer. I have a commitment to myself to do what I can to help, and it turns that with minimal effort, I can do a lot more than I originally thought I could. Doing so allows me to live in peaceful alignment with my values. Yes, it can be a nuisance at times, but it’s worth it. In the bigger picture, it doesn’t require that much of me, really, to help a creature to experience less pain, less hunger, less thirst, less bitter cold.
What if each of us committed to helping an animal in need? It’s so much easier to turn away, but that small sense of satisfaction that comes from bringing relief to another sentient being is a reward in and of itself. I am immensely grateful for the ability not to turn away.